"When I get to a place
for the first time and know it like home, this is when I know my journey
will be over"
"On the plains of hesitation lie the bleached bones of those who waited, and while waiting, died"......
"He who hesitates is not only
lost, but miles from the next exit"
"Never stop exploring.
If you're not constantly pushing yourself, you're leading a numb
Cindy's July 2009 Blog
Feel Free to browse past blogs for plenty of travel ideas and many of the places we've been in our first 12 months on the road - 2007 Blog's
Well-behaved women seldom make history
Wednesday July 8th
Wow, has it ever been a long time since I updated this thing! The fourth of July has come and gone, unfortunately with no fire works here in Yellowstone National Park. It's been almost a month since I have written and as Pat has told you, it is because I haven't really had anything nice to say.
This job at Yellowstone has turned into one of the worst places I have ever worked in my life! I have to say that I have tried my hand at many things in my life, some of which include: working as a door to door sales person, selling baskets out of my trunk, I once was a Jeannie in a bottle in Gatlinburg yelling at people to come talk to me while I sit there for two hours in a box half the size of a refrigerator.
I have also been a Chainsaw Swinging, cloaked scary guy in a a haunted house, as well as one of those people who call you soliciting donations for the fire department (Ok, this job was pretty bad too!) I also spent some time saying "Three balls for a dollar, guess the speed of the first ball and you win a prize!" (CARNY)
Lets see, I've sold "Chains by the Inch" to people who thought the gold was actually real! Was a licensed Alllstate Insurance Agent which gave me nightmares because of how many people we ripped off! Oh, and I also cleaned apartments that were left abandoned, filthy, roach riddled and had to be basically gutted.
That should give you an idea of the job spectrum that I have covered which tells you I have had some pretty crappy employment over my 40 something years on this Earth. If I think this is the Worst Job, let me say that it is REALLY bad. It's not that the people who we work with are bad because each and everyone of them has a special place in my heart. The bad thing is that there is no reward for hard work.
This year the Delaware North Corp. has decided that Yellowstone can run with 150 less employees through out the park than they did last year. Our store alone has 10 less employees. The reason why I know this is because I had the pleasure of waiting on the CEO the other day as well as the high men on the totem pole here in the park.
I over heard the CEO ask the question "We are running on a skeleton crew here, can you explain to me how we are accomplishing this?" To which I heard the lady he was talking to say the numbers and how each individual is putting in more work for a much smaller pay roll.
None of the employees are happy with their jobs and all of us workers are so run down that we have no energy to even enjoy the park and everything it has to offer. Our cute little cashier, Pat, was practically asleep standing up the other day when I came over and shook her a bit. She and her husband love to hike and photograph in the park so they are just running on empty in order to see everything here.
Most of the people here are students from other countries and they are either just learning English or have very little English skills. All of them work their butts off and get absolutely no recognition for it. I try and tell them numerous times during the day how good they are doing and how helpful they are but their main boss doesn't do this or even acknowledge any of them.
Their main boss is probably so sick of her position that she could spit. They have her so over loaded that she can't keep up with her own thoughts. This leaves little room for praise from her since she is tired and worn out also.
I always have a smile on my face, even when the 10th non-tipping person walks out of the restaurant well fed and happy. I try to boost morale in the place, but my smile is wearing thin. When I went to eat breakfast this morning, after waiting on around 600-800 people yesterday, I got reprimanded for the dishwashers not doing their jobs last night, while in front of everyone at the breakfast table that is.
This was not only unprofessional, but it was also embarrassing to me and everyone else that heard me get in trouble for something that wasn't even my job. I was told that I can't leave when my job is done, I have to stay until the dishwasher is finished to make sure everything they are supposed to do is completed. When I explained that there was not one but two dishwashers, and I thought they could handle it themselves. I was told that they are kids and they needed to be supervised at all times. I guess she has now given me a promotion to supervisor, without all the bells and whistles!
I came home and told Pat that we didn't need the money that bad and that even though I really like all of the people that work there, I can't do it anymore. Pat agreed and I went back and gave our notice. The manager was very nice and totally understands and said she doesn't blame me. She made a commitment to the company so she was sticking it out for the season, but will never return.
Ok, the upside to this long drama filled blog is that we can start being ourselves again, taking photos like we used to, having fun and being goofy!! We might be doing it dead broke, but what the heck, who cares. Life is too short to live like we are right now. Stressed and unhappy.
I have lost too many friends and family and watched too many people let life just pass them by not doing the things they really love. To then look back and say why didn't we ever???? We have taken a vow to not let life take control of us, we will take control of our life.
So I might not be back until after the 20th which is our last day, but I will be in full swing after that, unless this job kills us first!
Sunday July 12th
So much has happened in the past few days that it is hard to keep up with. When Pat and I turned in our 2 week notice, it was like a huge weight lifted off of our shoulders. This made our days off on Wednesday and Thursday so much more productive, knowing we only had a few more days to be here in the park.
We got to see some awesome areas in Yellowstone and also outside of the park near Earthquake Lake in Montana and the little town of Big Sky, Montana. When we are together like this for so many hours, looking for some answers to our predicaments, usually we will come up with some type of solution.
I think we had so much built up animosity toward each other that two days were not enough for this pickle to be solved. Most of our discussions have been heated since Pat and I do not see eye to eye on the making, spending and saving of money. Pat is like a dang crazy man when it comes to the plans he comes up with for our future monetary situation.
He wants to be like some other Americans right now that have maxed out credit cards and let the bills go unpaid and just file bankruptcy. This doesn't make sense to me since most of the people in this predicament have fallen into that hole, not dug it on purpose and then slid their way out.
I on the other hand have worked my entire life paying everything on time, not buying anything until we had the cash to cover the purchase and never over extending our credit, just incase something bad happens.
My credit report is over 800 points and believe me, it was hard to get it that way. My mother taught me how to manage and budget money for the future and never be out of a savings, because one never knows what might happen.
Pat on the other hand doesn't feel like savings is important. He wants to buy a $1200 camera body right now as well as a new motorcycle with a stupid side car for me to ride in! Side car! Whatever!
When our manager Chris came to our door while I was getting ready for work on Friday morning and told us that we didn't have to work out our two week notice, I was overjoyed. Not only did I not want to go back to work, I knew everyone would be mad at us for leaving. That solved that predicament, but Pat and I were still at odds with one another over just about everything else in our lives right now.
I mean we can't agree on anything at all right now, even simple things like where to hang a wet towel or how much laundry is in the dirty clothes basket or how about what jacket I should wear for the day. Who the heck even thinks up these stupid arguments?
Our change of plans on Friday brought us to the realization that we need food. Since we have been eating in the employee dinning room for a month, I have done no shopping. We had the choice of paying twice the amount of what anything cost in Jackson Hole, or driving 2 hours to Bozeman, Montana and paying a reasonable price.
I chose Bozeman and Pat chose Jackson, imagine that! After arguing for an hour about going to Bozeman I finally said "You stay here, I will go by myself." I thought Pat was going to go through the roof. We are at each other so bad right now, I think we need some boxing gloves and a few minutes in the ring to let out our anger on one another.
I admit that I am saying and doing things to make him crazy, as well as not listening to him at all. He on the other hand is so demanding right now and expects me to do what ever he says. Not a good environment, that's for sure, thank God we have dogs and not kids to hear us argue.
I told Pat I was leaving without him and I walked out to the truck and got in the driver seat. I NEVER DRIVE. As Pat neared the truck, he saw me on the drivers side and motioned for me to get over. I then locked the door and told him "No!" I said "I didn't like the way you drive so slow and I would get us there faster without stopping every few miles to take pictures."
Now if you guys follow our blogs, everyone knows that I fall asleep within minutes of being in a vehicle. I know this happens and I was just being an ass because I know Pat doesn't like to be the passenger. Within 25 minutes of being behind the wheel, I told Pat that he needed to drive since I was falling asleep.
Pat refused and told me to suck it up, I was the one who wanted to drive so bad. I won't even go into our conversations in the vehicle because they are just stupid. I look back and laugh at how much we tried to irritate each other and think "Are we normal?" Long story short, we made it to Bozeman in one piece, shopped and started the long drive home with Pat behind the wheel the way it should be.
I can only compare us to my dogs. When they haven't been exercised enough and they are restless from being in the truck too much or in the camper for too long, they are bad. When I exercise them and they get outside a bunch and do things they enjoy, they are relaxed and loving and very easy going.
Hence Pat and I right now and our bad attitudes. We needed to be not cooped up and get some exercise and get out to do things we like to do. On the ride home from Bozeman, Pat was driving, I looked at him and said "You know, I started liking you again around noon today."
That was it, we are over it, all of the disagreements and picking at one another and demanding poor attitudes are gone. Today is Sunday and we haven't had a disagreement since. We still don't have any idea what we are going to do for an income, but the most important part of our life is better. Pat and I know how much we really love each other and as long as that is good, we can get through anything.
I wonder if people who are thinking of getting divorced were forced to stay in a 25 foot travel trailer together with no one else but each other to talk to. I wonder if they could reach into the good times and pull out the real love that they once had for one another? Not that Pat and I were to that point or even near it, but some days are harder than others making it difficult to see how easy it is to be happy.
Our plan for the next few days is to hike, camp and act like tourists in this big beautiful Park that we haven't had the chance to enjoy yet. The rest of our lives will have to wait for us to figure it out, because right now we don't have a clue.
There haven't been any photos that I can share with you about the past few days since we don't take pictures while yelling at one another....Thank God, and don't go giving Pat any Ideas! I also don't have a camera right now since it is in for repairs. I like to post my pictures on my blog and Pat's pictures on his.
That is why when you see the differences in each others blogs, Pat's photos are incredible and should be put in a coffee table book. It sure is good to love and admire my husband again!
Monday July 13th
Yesterday was such a great day from beginning to end. I woke us up with the morning protein shake that makes my husband so happy, took the dogs for a long walk and packed some food for us to eat while camping over night in the back country.
We figured it out that if we got an early start with the dogs being fed and worn out from exercise, and if we didn't leave the camper until after 4pm, that they would be good until around 7am when we would return from our overnighter.
The place that we chose to camp was only 2 miles from the camper and was situated right along the Yellowstone River. The only bad part about hiking at this time of the day is how darn hot it gets. On the other hand, when the sun is completely up, the mosquitoes aren't nearly as bad.
When Pat and I were hiking the other day, we were getting eaten by biting Tiger Flies. I am allergic to these things and I swell up like a balloon where ever I get bitten. We figured out that if we stay in the sun, the mosquitoes don't bite, good to know, however the biting flies love the sun.
After an hour of swatting, stomping, spraying copious amounts of bug spray and dodging in and out of the sun, we decided that they both actually love DEET and must get high off the stuff. The bugs will also seek this scent out weather you are in the shade or the sun.
When we got our back country permits from the Ranger station, they had us watch a movie about safety and bears. I had this strange misconception that I would be able to hide behind a tree if a bear came after me and I could out maneuver it until it got tired and it would just leave me alone.
This theory was ruined when we went to the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone. At the center, I watched as a playful 300 pound grizzly hid from it's 400 pound brother behind a tree. At this point the brother just knocked the tree over and grabbed it's sister with it 10 foot arm span.
As I always do, I started thinking of all the scenarios that were possible as we walked though this quiet wilderness, surrounded by wildflowers, craggy mountain sides and flowing river. I kept replaying in my head what the Ranger had said about not bringing fruit scented lip balm on our hike because the bears could smell something like that for miles.
This then gave me a panic stricken thought of "Will my Sweet Pea scented lotion that I covered my body with turn me into a bear appetizer?" I began clapping my hands and singing anti-bear songs to keep us safe through out our hike.
Pat was just so thrilled with my new found fear of bear attacks that he refused to sing along. He wouldn't even help keep the beat by clapping with me? As we neared our camp site, a cool breeze kept the heat and the mosquitoes at bay for us, which was a nice change.
At the river, we took off our packs and sat down for some lunch as I took off my hiking boots, which seemed to have shrunk a size since getting them mud covered and thoroughly wet at the Chuck Wagon Race in Arkansas. I have four blister on my toes, but will suffer through until I stretch these babies back out.
I put my feet in the frigid water and listened to the cool breeze become stronger and stronger. We looked across the meadow and saw what looked like a huge electrical storm coming our way. Now I'm no wimp but it has been years since we camped outside in a tent and there is a good reason for that. We hate getting rained on while in a tent.
Rain can kill a good camping expedition in about 10 minutes. The last time we camped out, it rained for 4 days straight. After not leaving the interior of the tent, we had resorted to Pat and I playing with home made sock puppets and watching their shadows talk on the side of the tent in the light of our headlamps.
Not long after we finished eating lunch by the Yellowstone River, we decided against camping out, choosing to hoof it back quickly to the camper instead. On the way in, we had descended 700 feet to the water, which meant that we had to climb back up that 700 foot incline to get back to the camper.
The switchbacks made the incline not as drastic, but when we were practically running, it sure did make for a good butt and leg burn. When we got back to the camper the dogs didn't even wake up when we opened the door. They have no fear of thunder or lightening since they are so used to noises.
When we were in the employee camp ground, all of our neighbors commented on how awesome our dogs were. Most never even knew we had dogs until they saw me walking them. We even had a friend come into the camper after he knocked on the door.
The dogs never barked or moved and our neighbor was shocked when he noticed Luca was actually sitting on my lap. Great watch dog!! That's Luca sleeping on my hand while I work on the computer.
Of course Pat had to get out in the storm to see if he could get some pictures until I yelled at him to come inside.
I saw a lighting bolt come so close to him that I wanted to run out and give him a metal umbrella incase the next one came closer.....just kidding. Pat came inside and asked what was for dinner since we didn't have to eat the non-smellable, dried food that I had brought to eat on our camping trip.
It's funny to hear Pat inquire about eating since he is never very interested in food. I think both Pat and I really missed my cooking since we were eating at the EDR (Employee Dining Room). Most of their food was good, just not the kind of stuff that I make.
I had been craving chicken wings, so when we shopped the other day I bought all the fixin's to make them. I made a batch for Pat first and I noticed he kept sniffling, rubbing his eyes and had downed his entire jug of water. He said the sauce was good, it was just REAL hot. I called him a wimp and continued to make mine. As I ate them, my eyes started to water and my mouth was on fire. Perfect!
For the rest of the night, we sat in the camper and listened to the rain pelt the hard side of the camper instead of the soft side of a tent, a much better sound in my mind. This was the last sound I heard before falling asleep and I was very thankful that we were in our dry, cozy bed.
I would also like to talk about something Pat and I have come up with that we think might keep us on the road. We both frequent a bunch of other travel sites to not only see what others are doing, but to get ideas on where to go next.
We always notice that these sites ask for money and ask for donations with each post. We've actually had a few readers suggest we put one of the Donation Buttons on our site, but neither of us feel comfortable with that sort of thing. Some of the sites have gone to a membership fee, but again, neither of us feel comfortable with anything like that.
Then while we were just sitting around talking last night during the rain storm, one of us made the comment that if every reader was to buy a picture out of our galleries, it would be much better than donating because they're actually getting something in return.
If you've never priced out the photos in our galleries, they're a real steal and you can get images anywhere from a simple 4"x6" print, all the way up to poster sized, framed, wall hangers.
We have them priced accordingly and for the time and effort we've put into getting some of these shots, one of our comments we say to one another when frequenting galleries is "I cant believe they're charging that much for that print!" Ours are nothing like those Gallery Prices.
Even if every visitor didn't purchase a print, we've had more than 3 million visitors to our site so far this year, it would make a tremendous difference if a small portion of the readers each bought an image.
We'd love to hear from some of you readers as to what you think? Is that too cheesy? Should we have a donation button on our site? We've been kicking around the idea of offering some apparel, hats and mugs with our logo on them and putting together a calendar of our 13 best images from the last 3 years on the road.
I guess if we're going to stay on the road for any longer, we have to look at this from the marketing standpoint and stop just having fun all the time. Please let us know what you think, because we really value the opinions of our readers.
Tuesday July 14th
After a long day of rest yesterday, I finally got the courage to leave the house this morning. Pat had wanted to go on a long hike but thank goodness, it was raining. I don't think I was up to eating granola for lunch and hiking my way through a ravine. It is a long drive between rest areas here so I decided against going anywhere yesterday.
Even though it was raining in the morning, we decided to unhook the camper and take a nice drive through a scenic area (Blacktail Plateau) that is supposed to have lots of wild life. We didn't see anything except for a huge discarded rack from an Elk which Pat yearned for to put on the front of the truck, he so silly!
After our 9 mile tour, we headed out of the park to see the big town of Cooke City. This town that was erected in the late 1800's has not charged a whole lot since then. The main street still has most of it's original buildings and except for road construction, I would have thought nothing had changed.
We sat talking with a real nice gentleman named Rich that gave us some info on the history of the town and we also discussed some of the wildlife in and around Cooke City. He told us a story about a Grizzly being in his yard this week and also explained that he doesn't have a back door so he was getting a little nervous.
That's how this town seemed, laid back, safe, sleepy, pretty much like the now canceled TV show, Northern Exposure. After we visited the Cooke City General store and looked at all of the old photos, we headed back toward the camper. I couldn't leave the place however without buying chocolate out of the big drums, like the old days, some Black Jack gum and a pack of Clove Gum.
Pat made the comment, "You don't like chocolate, and that gum is terrible, I wouldn't even eat that when my Grandfather gave it to me as a kid." To which I replied "I know but it all brings back memories that are good from my childhood. The good ones I like to relive."
On our way back to the camper we passed an area called Petrified Tree, we noticed a crowd building on the side of the road which usually means a bear citing in this area.
Pat pulled out all of his gear and we ran over to see the type of bear and hoped to see the momma black bear with her two cubs. To our surprise, it was a Grizzly which looked to be around 3-4 hundred pounds.
As we sat watching the Grizzly grazing and sleeping at the same time, I thought about this. When I watch those wildlife adventure films, I see bears growling and ripping at their food. The films show them taking on other predators to protect a fresh kill and it makes me wonder, how long did this camera man have to film these bears to see them doing anything other than sleeping?
We have seen at least 10 bear in the wild and all I have ever seen them do is dig for grubs and eat, usually as they are laying down. That must be how they get sooo fat, cause they don't exert any energy. I also find it funny that they eat mostly grass and flowers every time I've seen them.
We've seen no vicious attacks on antelope or baby bison. We have actually seen them all coexisting and grazing in the same field, just chilling out with each other. Not that I am hoping to see some sort of wild animal attack, no, forget that, yes I am. I would love to see one of those National Geographic moments so I could tell you all some exciting stories of brutal attacks from a 900 pound Grizzly.
I guess I should wait to hope for that until I get my camera back!
Wednesday July 15th
Since we ended up just outside of the Mammoth Springs entrance of the park last night, we decided to make an inspection on this quiet town named Gardiner. Last night we stayed in a pull-off that was 5 miles out of the park, right along the Yellowstone River.
If we stayed in the park in town, this would have been a prestigious waterfront view at 50 bucks a night, Thank Goodness for our Solar Panels. By the time we got started in the morning, it was almost noon so we carried our laundry into down town and washed the two loads that we had accumulated in the past week.
While I was doing laundry, Pat went to find a dump station so we could start fresh on our trip to Cheyenne on Friday. I threw the clothes in and took a walking trip around down town as my nose was being filled with all of the glorious scents from the local eateries.
By the time that I saw Pat again, the clothes were dry and I had toured the whole town. As he helped me fold, I made him a proposition for lunch and he took me up on it. When we were working, we decided to take one day of the week and split it up between us so we could buy what ever we wanted.
Pat has obviously already blown his on camera equipment and mine I will spend on going out to eat or for nights out on the town. That is my favorite thing to do so I can see more people and taste foods from different areas, where as Pat only eats to fill a void, not for the taste of it.
By the time we got finished with our lunches and checked out a few of the honky-tonks in town, we were ready to find a place to camp and just relax. Again, we found a little hot spot on the side of the road and slept like two bears! (Why do people always say like babies, they wake up every 2 hours!)
Thursday July 16th
After a long discussion on how people find the best wildlife opportunities, we decided to get up early in the morning and be ready for action by first dawn. Without breakfast, we were traveling by 5:30am, a miracle in itself. We drove through areas that we thought might be a good spot since we had heard about animal sightings the day before, a few wolves and a black bear were seen on what was left of some sort of carcass.
As we sleepily pulled up to the area, the carcass was gone. A bit disappointed and now very sleepy, we forged ahead, keeping our eyes peeled for anything we might want to photograph. We saw Buffalo, old news, Elks with no racks, boring, a few birds such as Osprey and some hawks, but they were too far from the road to get a good shot, so no great visual accomplishments were found on our little photo expedition.
Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a huge black mound of fur. Not the usual Buffalo brown that I am used to seeing, this thing was black. I said to Pat "Bear, Bear, Bear!" Of course Pat laughed and kept driving until I assured him that this was the real thing.
Now the reasons why he would keep driving are way too long to list but believe me, I have claimed to have seen many things on the side of the road over the years such as cows with huge racks, a farmer chasing a cub into a tree, something huge with lights landing in the middle of the road (I have night blindness) and the list could go on and on. So I understand why Pat might keep driving when I claim to see something.
Once Pat did pull over, we were the first ones to stop and see this big black bear and that made us both very happy. A continual question we have is why we never see anything first, now we have. We spent a couple hours with this big black bear and Pat photographed it as I yearned for my camera so bad that I could taste it.
I finally went into the camper and made us some breakfast as this bear gave us a show of grazing much like a cow would. Again, no excitement in the bear area. Our conversation went something like this.
Pat- I wish it would stand up or something.
Cindy- I wish it would climb on that big rock.
Pat- I wish it would climb on the rock and stand up.
Cindy- I would like to see him stand up and put a top hat on.
Pat- It would be great if he would stand on the rock with a top hat and a pipe.
Cindy- Yes that would be a great picture, how bout if he also had a white cane with some of those fuzzy bear slippers on his feet, that would be grand.
About that time is when Pat climbed on the roof for a better view of the bear eating grass as I continued to cook breakfast and perked a pot of cowboy coffee. All in all, we enjoyed the few hours with the bear as we out waited 90% of the other tourist who would scramble to take a photo of it's hind end, then run back to their vehicle to get more great Point & Shoot shots of unframeable parts of animals.
After we finished our breakfast and I grabbed a cup of strong coffee for the road, we headed to hike Lost Lake. This was a short 1/2 mile hike that ran along the road to Petrified Tree. I always forget that when we are taking hikes in the tall grass that I need to wear pants.
Does anyone remember when they were a kid and you would roll down a hill or play in the grass and when you were done you would itch all over? Well every time I hike in shorts, my legs itch for hours. I did forget about the itching when I took the time to look around us at the hundreds of wildflowers that are in full bloom.
So many different kinds I couldn't count them all. There are red, purple and pink geraniums, wild roses from fuchsia to light pink, Shasta daisies and queen anns lace, purple lupine that looked like it was glowing and white ground cover that wove between this carpet of growing flowers. I am not kidding when I say I had no idea what most of them were, but at least 20 more types of flowers were all flourishing together which gave the nose an extra gift.
When we reached the lake, we heard the perpetual thumping of a woodpecker on a dead log. As we walked closer, we notice two of them on a downed tree that was eye level for us. One flew away while the other seemed to work feverishly at this log, trying to win his prize.
I think we were 6 feet from the thing as we watched in amazement at the saw dust flying in every direction. We stood still for a few minutes while Pat took pictures and I just enjoyed his hard work. Finally the woodpecker came out with a grub that was an inch long.
He immediately left his hunting grounds and flew to a different tree. We both looked at each other and said "Ah, ha, that's why it didn't fly away. I wouldn't have left a big meal like that either, especially after what a head ache it was to find it." (Punn)
When back at the truck, Pat agreed to take me to a spot on the lake which we had previously found on a scouting trip. Very secluded, lots of sun and the dogs didn't have to be on a leash since it was a small peninsula. We arrived and I put on my bikini, loaded up with sunscreen and brought my book, my bug spray and my dogs down to the water for the rest of the afternoon. Glorious! What a way to end out stay in Yellowstone National Park.
Friday July 17th
After we waited in Yellowstone for the entire day to pick up my camera, it turned out to be a total bust. We did get a bunch of mail from my in-laws which had our allergy medicine in it that they smuggled in from Canada, so the day wasn't a total waste. Just kidding Bob and Judy, but we do love you and you're smuggling techniques.
My mother-in-law had told us that after they had went over to buy us a three month supply of Allegra D which cost only $20 a month compared to $120 over here in the United States, they got stopped at the border crossing. Apparently when she told the border patrol that she is allowed to carry that small amount across the border, they said that was untrue. After bringing the manager over, they left with the Allegra, not being put in jail. I guess her research paid off on the laws of smuggling and we like to joke that our Mother is now our International Pusher.
When we walked into The General Store, there was a look of surprise on everyone's face, as they thought we had left the area. A few of the employees gave us hugs and said they were hurt because we left without saying good bye. I explained that leaving without saying good bye was not our intention and that we would be back again next week to spend more time with them.
We didn't get on the road to Cheyenne until after 4pm, so our drive time would be short today, or so I thought. There was so much road construction that we had to crawl down the curvy roads until we finally called it a night just outside of Dubious. It was after 10pm by this point and we had hardly gotten anywhere, it was too dark to drive these unlit highways anymore with the risk of hitting an animal or running off the steep, sharp turns, so Pat pulled over for the night.
Not that I minded, I had my Passenger Brakes on the entire last hour we were driving! You know, those make believe brake pedals us women have on the passenger floor board.
Saturday July 18th
When we got up on this morning we drove only a few miles until we reached a point where we could download our emails and check out some information we needed for the Frontier Days Rodeo. Once we had our info downloaded, we got on the road and made some good time. When it started to roll close to noon, it was late for me and by then, I was starting to fall asleep.
I saw a sign that said Giant Jack-elope and 25¢ coffee. I told Pat that I had to see both of these attractions offered, so we pulled over at the small gas station in Dubious. Inside, Pat struck up a conversation with the owner and found out that the place was for sale. Once I heard that, I walked around and saw all of the potential this place had. It already had a huge kitchen and had space for a small restaurant that the current owner was not even utilizing to its fullest potential.
Many of the current things in the building could be upgraded for small fees and this made my mind start racing with thoughts of starting over with Dubois as our next home town and those thoughts of us being our own new bosses. The more I think about it, the more I would like to have a place to bring from the ground up just like we did with our previous business.
Pat and I didn't talk to each other for a while because I new he was thinking about the same things that I was, the only big problem holding us back would be, money. I don't think the guy, not knowing us, would work out payment plans on our word of honor.
After much conversation, we came up with the same verdict and also factored in that Wyoming is cold most of the year and that is not really my type of weather.
We drove further down the Highway until Pat found a little watering hole on the side of the road. He had pulled over when he saw a service station, a gas station, a bar, a restaurant and a hotel, all in the same attached building. The population sign of the glorious town of Hiland said 10. I sat in the truck while he looked around the property. When he came out to get me, he opened the door saying "You have to come see this place, it is just the sort of place we like!"
We sat for 3-4 hours, talking to the locals and getting serenaded by a older gentleman who was a young wiper snapper at heart. Another local came in and shared a homemade recipe of snack mix with us as we learned the history about the area and the few special characters that lived here.
Everyone that came in either brought their dog or went home to get their dog, or had a great story of a dog. Dog people, I should have known! Our favorite kind. They told us we could go out to the truck and bring our dogs in if we wanted, which made me feel very welcome, but I would be too afraid that our Beagle would start trouble, or the Pit Bull would want to play, which he always does and it would keep us from having fun, something we were having lots of.
As we sat there, we each had three drinks. I've come to the conclusion that I really don't like beer anymore cause I tend to blow up like a dead carcass. I cant tell for sure, but I think I had a half bottle of Tequila in my three small drinks because I could not wait to get back in the truck and go to sleep.
This thrilled Pat as his 3 Coors and the few snacks had no impact on him over our long conversations. The next thing I knew, we were pulling over for the night! So much for good time Charlie here, what a cheap date I have become.
Sunday July 19th
I woke up to the sound of a huge bull, bellowing for us to get off his land just past 6am this morning. He stared at me through the front screen door as I got us ready to start the day, feeling incredibly well rested!
It was only a few hours before we pulled into Cheyenne to replenish my thirst for rodeo as well as our food and drinks from the local Wal-Mart. As we shopped, we kicked around the idea of buying a Canon Rebel XSi to temporarily replace my 30D. I couldn't stand to not be able to shoot this entire rodeo, so we went ahead and got it and will keep it as a 3rd body, which Pat insists he needs.
As we went to the cashier to settle up, our total was so high that the lady thought she rang something up wrong. This amount is basically 1/4 of the money we have left for this trip. The clock is ticking for the final days of Every Miles A Memory since we will have to stop and get jobs unless something changes. The last Rodeo we covered gave us an extra month of travel by selling some of the photo's, so I guess only time will tell.
We pulled into our designated area at the Frontier Days Parking lot and got settled in, but since we don't have Press Passes until tomorrow, we just caught up on some things that we needed to get done, had some great dinner and called it a night. As we were lying there sleeping, I thought we were going to be swept away in a rain/wind storm with the camper rocking something awful.
On the other hand, that rocking back and forth mixed with the back ground noise really did a number on my sleepy mind and anxious heart to get into the rodeo tomorrow.
Monday July 20th
Our alarm clock was a bit different from the cow billowing the other day and sounded like someone banging at the front door. It is so funny because every day when we wake up, I have to think to myself, "Where are we and what is the last thing I remember doing or, where did we stop last?"
The father-like security guard who was scolding us, informed Pat of our wicked ways and told us not to return with our camper since the camp grounds needed people to stay in them. Good for the city to support the local campgrounds, not good for us!
We drove out and within 3 minutes we landed 2 blocks away from the entrance, on a city street which allows over night camping. Or at least we think it does since there was a few other campers parked along the curbs at this early morning hour. This section of downtown Cheyenne is located over looking a great park with guided walking paths, big mature trees and swimming in a nice, secluded lake. Lots of picnics and dog walks to watch instead of the remnants of the hay filled equine area which I thought was a big improvement.
Pat got a call from our friend who lives in Jackson Hole saying that he was going to come out for the event since he has been here for 5 years and has never attended. He asked where we were staying and Pat told him of our Penthouse spot just outside of the event. So I guess he will be staying with us for one night on our pull-out couch in the living room.
People who stay with us are always amazed that 2 of us and 2 dogs sleep, live and shower in such a tight area. It seems like such a normalcy to me now, too much room is just too much room!
We got to the event around noon by the time we had gotten everything ready and I had figured out the settings and controls on my new camera. It is so much smaller than what I am used to and very hard to keep ahold of without the extra battery pack/grip on the bottom. It takes a different battery than the 6 we currently have, as well as a different type of memory card, so I'm hoping I'll be able to make it through the week on one battery and one 4gig SDHC memory card.
All-in-all, it seems pretty nice though, so I was ready to give it a go. After the first event, I let Pat know that this thing is going back unless it performs differently at night than in the day time. It is very slow and doesn't seem to have as many megapixels, even though it's supposed to have more than my older 30D body.
For action photography, one needs the speed of multiple frames per second to go along with the faster focusing speed of the bigger bodies. This thing is only 2.5 frames per second compared to my normal 5fps, so while shooting, I can take the beginning of a bull ride and the end, but miss most everything in between.
Knowing that there is nothing we can do about it, I tried not to voice my frustrations too bad, but I am very disappointed in the change of camera for the worst. I thought that maybe if my photo's turned out OK, it would be worth the extra cost, but I can see right now that Pat is right when he says we need a faster body to cover events like this.
We went to the PBR night time event and I took a hand full of photos and finally just had to walk away from the photo area to get over my tantrum. No focusing power in low light, and our normally fast lenses almost seem useless on this body. It is like I am using completely different lenses on this thing? Not even the fastest f/2.8 lens will bring out the quality that I am used to.
A cold front moved in and none of us had jackets on, so this was my perfect excuse to go home and sulk on my own. I told the boys that I was going back to the camper and I would see them when they returned, but they were both freezing and came with me. We hurried back and I made some salad and a pizza before we turned in for the night, looking forward to more excitement tomorrow.
I set Luca up on the pull out couch and brought the dogs into our room so that he didn't have to be subjected to "Bruno" as Luca calls him, spooning him all night. I hate sleeping all night with the dogs in our room cause even if I don't let them on the bed when we first lay down, they are like Santa Clause and "Knows when we are sleeping", which gives them the opportunity to sneak in the bed and steal all the covers from Pat and I.
I end up wrapped like a mummy with no room to move by morning and Pat has been shoved over the edge of the bed, clinging on by his finger nails. One night won't be a problem since we are used to doing it during the cold winter nights to keep warm.
Tuesday July 21st
Rise and shine at 6am, my usual time, unfortunately, no one else was ready to get up. I laid in bed for an hour until I couldn't sit still any longer. I finally got up and took the dogs for a long walk because I couldn't just lay there listening to everyone snore. When I came back, Luca (our company) was still wrapped cozily in his sleeping bag on the couch and Pat was still in bed too.
At this point, our camper is getting soooo small, having 3 photographers staying in here is almost too much. Luca has 3 small back packs filled with various camera gear, we have 43 medium sized back packs and one big daddy ThinkTank bag that holds the 400mm in it. Not to mention Luca on the couch where our bags normally go, the dogs in the bed with Pat and dirty dishes from yesterday still in the sink. This was almost too much for me to start off the day.
I decided to try and make a little room for us by washing the dishes and stacking all of our photo gear in the shower. This made a little bit more room to move around and I didn't seem so claustrophobic. While I washed the dishes, I made some of my Cowboy Coffee, and oh darn, looks like the boys woke up with all the fuss I was making!
After a quick breakfast of eggs, bacon and coffee, we headed to the PR center and got our credentials for today's rodeo which consisted of either a pit pass or a chute pass. The pit is an area which is sort of like a baseball dug out except it is dug into the earth about 4 feet and sticks out two feet above the arena floor.
The emcee of the event stands on top of this dug out as us photographers peek through the open 2 feet of space. The only bad part about this are is one must be 6 foot tall to really get a good angle, other wise, none of the animals have feet. I am not tall enough so, you will see in my photos there are lots of shoeless critters.
The chute area is just to the right or the left of where the animals are released with the rugged cowboys holding on for dear life. This is the less desirable area for most of the photographers but I loved it. I was so close to the ruff riders and the rodeo clowns that I could literally feel their excitement and anxiety as they readied themselves for their challenge.
I can see it in their faces that the waiting for their turn is the worst part. They will stretch and bend and wrap their hands, boots and belts. Some look as though they have their own unique rituals before every ride. The look of concentration right before they mount the horned beast that has been chosen for them is so intense, they almost look as though they will break down any minute if they dont get to ride the bull.
The down side to this area is that I get so wrapped up in all of the action going on around me that I forget to take photos or while I'm standing there waiting, the clowns and field marshals will ride in front of my lens, leaving me with lots of cowboy hats in my photos. It doesn't really matter all that much, because either spot I get selected to shoot from, I feel real lucky to be in because of the pure adrenaline rush that is contagious form these manly men.
I guess if we followed the circuit enough, Pat and I would learn the ranks and the names and all the technical stuff about the riders, but at this point, we are still having too much fun and trying our hardest to not making it a job to shoot the rodeos.
After a few hours straight of moving between the pit and chute photo spots, I needed to go back and walk the dogs and rest my legs for awhile. Sleeping with those two damn dogs left me with only a couple hours of sleep last night. I snuck back to the camper and walked my pups before we laid shade in the park for a half hour while I read and they both just chilled in the cool afternoon breeze.
Just as I was starting to doze off, Pat called me and asked me to come to the PR party which was back over at the entrance of the park. At this point, I just wanted to rest and sleep awhile, but a little convincing and I was by his side doing some hob-knobbing with the other photographers. Looking back, I'm so glad Pat talked me into it because I met some very interesting people who gave me some good info on our photography and the rodeo circuit.
It is alot of fun to sit and talk with fellow photographers who have been doing this sort of thing for years on end. You can learn so much from them and pick up on secrets that normally takes years of making mistakes yourself before you learn the ins and outs of this field.
After a few hours of food and drinks, we were off to shoot the night time PBR event again and this time, I stood in a better place and used the best lens we have for night time photos and I still hate this camera! Again we called it quits early because the night time shooting spot is the pits. Lots of over head lighting glare and they just leave us in the wrong spot to get any good shots.
We stopped in at the Buckin 'A' Saloon long enough to pound back a beer before Pat pussied out and said he needed to go home before he was going to fall over. I was ready to whoop it up tonight, but I knew I'd never be able to find my way back to the camper, so I went on home with my tail between my legs just as the saloon was starting to fill up.
When we got back to the camper I set Luca up on the couch again and told him "The first night he was company, the second night he is family, and now he had to sleep with the dogs if he was going to sleep in the camper." Pat went to sleep immediately after brushing his teeth and I soon followed after a bite to eat. Luca prepared himself for the dogs and turned in just after I called it a night.
Wednesday July 22nd
This morning I got out of making breakfast because we were going to the free pancake breakfast right in down town Cheyenne. Apparently the disaster relief team from the local Air Force Base gets their practice by feeding thousands of people quickly when they give away a pancake breakfast every year at this time. We're talking 7-9000 people in a few hours time, so you know they have to get some good practice.
When we pulled up and couldn't find parking, I knew it was a bad sign. There was a line, four people wide, that stretched for two city blocks just to eat breakfast. No thanks, we went to a local dinner instead.
We actually wanted to take pictures because everyone had told us what a site it is to see this and how cool it was for a handful of volunteers to feed so many people in such a short amount of time, but I guess that will wait till a time when we're not also planning on eating. A girls stomach has precedence over a good story any day in my book.
After our breakfast, we headed to the United States Air Force Thunderbirds Air Show which we were going to watch from the local community collage. We got there and both boys scrambled away to try and find a good location to shoot from as I sat in the back of the truck with my ear plugs in. I could barely catch up with these things in the air with the naked eye let alone trying to follow them with my camera.
I did my best from the comfy seat I had in the back of the truck and waited for the guys to come back. The show only lasted an hour or so, and as soon as we got back to the camper, we said our goodbyes to Luca as he had to work in tomorrow morning and it is an 8 hour drive home for him.
Pat and I worked on photos for the rest of the day and I tried to catch up on my blog, finally. Shooting non-stop and moving non-stop for a few days sure does make it hard to keep up on these little things.
Just as I was almost caught up, Pat reminded me that we are going to the Rodney Adkins Concert tonight, which was not what I wanted to hear. I have heard Rodney Adkins live twice before and I must say that he is not my favorite live performer.
I got ready anyway and we headed out to the arena even though we could only be there for the first three songs before we were escorted out to the back of the stadium. Not because we got crazy or anything, but that is always the agreement with press when taking photos up front. Most singers have the least sweat, the strongest voice and the best attitudes early in the show and their managers dont want you getting any photos of them covered in sweat, or straining to maintain their vocal cords.
As I stood and listened to Rodney, he actually impressed me in comparison to his last show that I heard in Nashville. His bucket must have gotten bigger because last time he couldn't carry a tune in it. Sorry, Rodney, but I'd like to congratulate you because things sounded much better tonight.
After the three songs were finished, Pat and I started to walk out into the carnival and I just said, "Lets go home! I'm beat and we still have so much to do with the last few days of photos."
Pat was happy to oblige and here we are now,10 pm, with me typing and him working on rodeo pictures. I will say goodnight to my blog and my husband and start a new day tomorrow hopefully completely caught up and ready to take on a few more days of rough stock and hard living cowboys.
This sure is a rough life for a lady, but I'll do my best to have fun with it!
Thursday July 23rd - Happy Birthday Monica!
Today was a fun filled day, packed with sheer excitement! We got over to the PR office just about 10:30 to register for a pass into the chutes then did some browsing around the fairgrounds which has some pretty cool things to offer.
They have dozens of little shops set up to look like an 1800's main street. There are leather works and art galleries, historical items for sale and all sorts of neat places to shop. Since we have no money, we only window shopped until we were ready to get some more photos of the rodeo.
Pat and I decided to take a different view at photography today. I of course wanted to get just strictly the cowboys, not the horses or the bulls and he wanted to get photos of them getting ready and there equipment and such. I guess you could say a more behind the scenes look at the rodeo and more personal photos rather than just bulls and broncos.
This was a good plan because it gave me a great idea for a gallery, "50 Reasons to Love Rodeo" I'm working on it today so it should be up soon and I'll post a link when its finished. After a few hours of shooting, I was roasting in the blazing sun and text messaged Pat that I was coming back to the camper.
On my arrival, I was given an incredible greeting by my two best friends and took them on a long walk in the park before we snuggled up on a blanket under the shade of a huge Cottonwood tree which is just outside the camper. We relaxed while I read my new Abe Morris book for an hour or so until I heard from Pat.
He was in the hospitality room, hanging with the other photographers and slamming a few back. He asked me to come out so we can go to the concert tonight without being left behind like last night since we showed up so late. The concert didn't start till 8pm, but we needed to meet at 5 for some reason?
After talking with Pat, I knew he hadn't eaten yet and this would be important for our long night ahead of us. I made him a quick sandwich, put on a different outfit since we don't have to wear our cowboy attire unless were shooting the rodeo and headed out.
By the time I got to Pat he was obviously tipsy and needed some food to help soak up the alcohol. He was talking with a couple that we had met from Colorado on the first day and I was very glad to see them again. On our first meeting, we only chatted for an hour or so but we had a great time.
John an Deana make a great couple and the four of us ended up hanging out throughout the Kellie Pickler concert as well as the entire Taylor Swift show which was awesome. Kleinphoto is John's website which offers some great photographer to look at. They live in Boulder Colorado which is only about an hour from here, so they've driven back and forth each day they've come here.
After numerous hours of beer drinking with no food, we all decided that we were starving about half way through the Taylor Swift concert. I volunteered to make something for us all back at the camper instead of eating the carnival food that cost an arm and a leg and is usually fried.
After our forewarning that we haven't had time to really clean the camper since we have been going constantly for the last few days and warning them of our tight quarters and two dogs, they fell for it and came home to keep us company.
We all sat around until Pat fell asleep sitting up, followed by Deana snoozing it up while John and I sat talking for hours. When I finally looked at the clock, I was shocked that it was after 2am. I haven't been up this late since I can't remember when! The night just flew by and with the steak fajitas on my tummy, I felt much better than I had at the concert.
We offered the couch for them to crash on, but with John being over 6 foot tall, I don't think they would have been too comfortable. John woke Deana up and they left to head home.
After attempting to wake Pat a few times, I just left him on the couch, brushed my teeth and crashed close to 3am. Sweet dreams filled with new friends and great entertainment. Oh by the way, both Taylor Swift and Kelly Pickler put on an awesome show.
Kelly Pickler is so pretty and has the smokinest figure while dancing around on stage. I can't believe the changes in her since she was on American Idol. The first time we saw he live, she cried through the entire song, Pat and I thought it was an act but then later found out that she was having difficulty coping with the loss of her Grandma.
Apparently she took a few months off and dealt with things and then came back stronger than ever. You gotta admire someone like that, what changes in life she dealt with so quickly.
I had heard from numerous people that Taylor was simply a press crafted singer, who actually didn't have a good voice and was all glam and glitter on the outside. I'm happy to say that this is a Very untrue statement and she had an incredible voice, was a great showman and put on an excellent performance with all the bells and whistles.
I cant imagine being 18 years old and head lining my own tour! Way to go girl! I cant wait for Kenny Chesney and Jake Owen tomorrow night!!! I'm so excited.
Friday July 24th
After our late hours last night, it was all I could do to get my day started. Not that I didn't wake up at 6am to the sound of the dogs ready for their walk but that didn't mean I was ready to face the world just yet.
Pat slept in, waking around 8am and we both just hung around the camper, trying to stay cool in the hot weather until Kenny Chesney started at 5pm today. The actual show started at 7pm, but we had to be rounded up a few hours early so that we could be herded to the press area.
Just before it was time for us to go, I told Pat that I was staying home to sleep. Pat being the understanding husband that he is said "Get your ass up and stop whining, you'll have plenty of time to sleep when this is over." After a bit of coaxing, I decided that he was right and I just needed to suck it up and get ready.
When we arrived at the PR area, the fellows that organize everyone asked us where we have been all day. We explained that our pass expired on Thursday and that we had just planned on taking photos of the concert tonight and that was it.
That's when they urged us to stay the rest of the weekend and enjoy ourselves during both the day time and night time events. I told Bob, one of the head guys, that I was worn out already and he explained that they have been going 100% since the previous Tuesday and most volunteers get 3-4 hours of sleep every night.
In other words, he had about as much sympathy as Pat did. He basically said "Stop whining and drink a beer, that will always get the party started." So, like a good girl, I brought Pat and I out a beer and started the ball rolling all over again.
By the time we had to go over to the event, I was feeling much better and was now really excited about seeing Kenny Chesney that close up and also being able to take pictures of my favorite country singer.
We ended up talking with another photographer names Wes for most of the show and the three of us got along very well. Wes lives a couple hours from here and is a regular at this event. We actually cracked up laughing the whole time we were waiting for the show and also compared notes on how to shoot it.
The opening act was Jake Owen, which I am a huge fan of his music but have never actually seen him. As he walked out and I had the camera up to my eye to shoot, I had to pull it away in order to double take his long, tall, smokin' hot self in with both eyes!
Man was that a huge surprise that left me in a quandary on whether to just watch and drool or take photos. Then after I took in the huge white smile, he started to sing in that low, soothing voice and I almost put the camera down. Boy was I thankful Pat got me out of bed at this point.
We can only shoot for two songs and when that was over, the event staff had to drag me from in front of the stage as I didn't want to leave yet. Pat, myself and Wes hung out for the next couple of hours while waiting to go back inside and watch Kenny Chesney.
When we were lead back into the stage area, I was getting butterflies because Kenny really is my favorite singer and has been since I started listening to country music. He brings back fond memories of Pat, myself, Derrick and Tish, our two best friends from Michigan, vacationing down in the Virgin Islands.
Derrick and I celebrate our birthdays a couple of days apart, so we all flew to Tortola, which is an island just across from St Johns, home to Kenny Chesney. The four of us sat on the beach around 1am with our toes in the warm clear water and Derrick and I sang an acoustic version of "Blue Rocking Chair" as we heard the waves gently laying on the shore.
One memory that I will remember for a life time or at least as long as my memory works. As Kenny came out onto the stage, the crowd went wild as did I, since I was close enough to actually know if he had shaved or not, which he had.
The two songs he sang went by so fast that I wanted to hide under the stage until the coast was clear so that I could watch the whole show from this close vantage point. We were led out and Wes was ready to go into the Buckin' 'A' Saloon, which is the make shift bar on premises.
I however was ready to hit the sack as well as Pat, so we said good night to Wes and headed for the camper. The night held the perfect weather and the star lit Wyoming sky made for a great evening, one that I was very glad to have woken up for.
Saturday July 25th
Pat and I woke this morning with the intentions of getting laundry done, and getting back on the road to start another leg our journey. After talking with everyone yesterday, our plans have now changed and we decided to stay until at least Sunday.
We did however have to get some laundry done since neither one of us had anything clean left to wear. We were out of water and needed to get that taken care of as well as clean the camper which has started to look like a bomb went off inside.
Normally we can go for weeks before we need to do laundry and rarely have it piled up this high. But while shooting the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo, we have to wear specific clothing that makes us look like authentic cowboys and cowgirls.
So the days of just throwing on shorts and a t-shirt have been swapped for denim jeans, long sleeve western shirts and boots. This means more clothes than we're normally used to and the clothes we are wearing are getting much more dirty than they would be if we were just hanging out or goofing off like normal.
We really haven't had water in the past two days because of the angle the camper is sitting, so the dishes were starting to pile up. Put that together with a shower full of dirty clothes, a floor that looked like an old sandy saloon dance hall and we needed to get some stuff clean before I went crazy.
Half way through the day I thought of John and Deana and wondered if they might be coming tonight since we had all had such a good time the other night. I decided to give them a call and just give them the extra incentive to make the 1 hour trip from Boulder.
I got no answer but left a message which was about 9am when I had called. We got a phone call back just before noon letting us know that they had just woke up and they would be arriving after they had some breakfast, Yeah!
We got all our chores done and parked in the lot which is designated for press, this lot is only a block away from the door to the press office so that was a nice change. When we carry all of our gear back and forth, it starts to get real heavy when walking back to the camper parked 4 blocks away usually around 1am.
Last night when we were between concerts, Bob had looked at me with a serious eye and said, "Girl, before you leave here, you have got to get a real hat, I can't tell if your coming or going with that cheap thing your wearing." I couldn't really tell him that it was not cheap but free and I had dug it out from under the bed and was completely flat as I pulled it out and tried to reshape it to make due for the week.
The first thing Pat and I did was go to a hat dealer and buy a nice Tony Lama that I could no longer shove under the bed to keep it out of the way. It is much nicer and 100x more comfortable. The only bad thing is that is is harder to shoot with since the brim is so big.
We spent an hour or so in the chutes today and I went back to the camper to walk the dogs and get ready for John and Deana to show up. We were in the press office when they got here and we all enjoyed a few beers and great conversation as we watched the rain begin to fall. The temperature started dropping and that made me glad for once that I had my jeans and long sleeve shirt on.
Pat ran back to the camper to get us some rain gear and another jacket so that the outdoor concert would be comfortable for us. I was pretty happy to be seeing Jake and Kenny again since they put on such a great show last night. I thought that maybe I would be able to get some really good shots since this was my third day of shooting in this arena.
While Kenny Chesney was still playing and we were done shooting our two songs, I had to go to the bathroom and found it so funny that the bathroom situation was completely different than usual. The men's line was 30 people long and the women's was empty.
We finished up both of the shows and decided to go check out the down town Cheyenne area since Pat and I have been no where but the event since we've been in town. John volunteered to drive and we parked on the main street of down town, stopping in a few places until we found a comfortable spot we all agreed on.
We ended playing a few games of pool and everyone wanted to put me on someone else's team since I have become so bad at it. Deana said she was bad at it also and ended up being a total pool shark! She ran the table a couple of times until she was bored with beating everyone who was willing to take her on.
We were all too hungry to go home at this hour, which was close to 2am, so me made the stop at an all night dinner for some greasy food and good times. At one point Deana and I were laughing so hard that we were both crying and I couldn't catch my breath. John was looking at us like we had lost our minds and Pat was just ignoring us.
Once the food hit the belly, it was all we could do to keep our eyelids from closing, and Pat's head was bobbing off the table about to fall into his plate of blueberry pancakes.
They dropped us off at our camper close to 3am and we both just hit the bed and were out. I have had so much fun at this entire event, I'm not sure that I want to leave Cheyenne at all. Everyone we have met have been so friendly and helpful. Heck, even the people at the laundromat were filled with information for us.
I looked on the internet and it says that there are 8000 available jobs in this area. I thought maybe we could stay for a while and find some employment until December. That was till they told us that winter starts in August with lot's of snow and wind that blows an average of 30 miles per hour every day. That is the average, some days it get up to 50 and 60 mile per hour with stronger gusts!
That ruined it for me, I just can't even imagine those temps and wind for 5 months. It's getting down to the wire now so we have to decide on some place to stop our wheels for a while.
Sunday July 26th
A day of laziness and photo work filled our afternoon as well as some shopping to replenish the fridge. We left the rodeo early this morning and figured we would just upload galleries and edit pictures for a while. We worked on photo's until we went to bed at 11:30pm. I was trying to stay up until midnight so that I could say 'Happy Birthday' to Pat, but my eyes wouldn't stay open.
He turns a whopping 36 tomorrow and I would have to say that this week would be his birthday present since the photo opts, the rodeo, mixed with good times with new friends is about as good as it gets.
I have started to get really attached to my Facebook page, it is so great to keep up with friends at home as well as newly made friends that we have found on the road. I'm not always the best on the phone since my attention span is too short, so Facebook works out good for me.
Now if I could just get my daughter on there, we could talk everyday without leaving phone messages for one another.
I should also say that I'm so excited about my photos of Jake Owen. They're some of the best concert footage I've ever shot, and I asked Pat if he could show me how to set one as the main picture on my computer. Every time I look at the gallery I find myself purring like a kitten with its back being scratched. You'll have to check out the galleries we posted yesterday and see for yourself.
Monday, July 27th Happy Birthday Pat
Waking up to a late start this morning, Pat arose another year older, I keep hoping that some day he will catch up to me, but I guess that's just not possible.
This days blog will be short and sweet because we did absolutely nothing! Pat worked on pictures because that's what he wanted to do, and I played on facebook for most of the day. After making his favorite dinner, we watched a movie from my favorite $1.00 bargain house, The Red Box, followed by a good nights rest.
After the past week we have had, there is nothing I could do or give him to top that excitement, besides he is so old that he was worn out from all the action!
He did get some Cheyenne Galleries posted from this past week, so make sure to check them out and see all our photos we captured from Cheyenne Frontier Days.
Wednesday July 29th
I am skipping Tuesday because it was even more uneventful than Wednesday but I can't spare you all of the boredom so I will at least share Wednesday with you. The other day Jana Thompson, a fellow photographer and outdoors woman spoke with Pat and I offering her home/yard for us to stay at during Sturgis Bike Week.
Now, when we lived in Michigan, Pat had the Smalltown LowDown and we had a biker event every week that was sponsored by the paper. We also had a group of, ok, I'll say it, Skanky, mean girls that went along with the package. These chicks, let's just call them the Skanks so we can keep track, were so rude to me and treated Pat like he was "The King" since he was partly there boss.
At first I tried to be nice and befriend them but they would have no part of me since I wore all of my clothing. This made me hate these weekly events but Pat made me go anyway since I was part of the management team. Long story short, we had a drawing at the end of the year and organized a huge event on the local fair grounds with concessions and booths selling stuff and it was a big deal.
All season long, we had collected names for the end of the year motorcycle give away, their had to be at least 5000 names to draw from. This end of the year prize was a Big Dog Custom Chopper.
Two of the Skanks had made a plan to draw a friend of theirs name by holding it in their hand before the drawing and then acting as though that was the one they picked. I witnessed them doing this and without saying anything to anyone, I grabbed the box of names and the microphone and drew the winners name fairly.
One of the girls had to be held back from ripping my head of as she screamed "Who the hell do you think you are, I am drawing the names you #@@**" No one else knew what was going on and could not figure out why this girl was so upset. She literally had to be drug into a vehicle and driven away before she tried to beat me up.
This weekly belittling from the Skanks and the fact that Pat took pictures of them giving lap dances and such just made me hate bike events. When I had agreed to go to Sturgis, basically without even asking Pat, he was shocked. I should also say that these pictures posted aren't either of the Skanks that I didn't get along with, but this was the type of weekly events we held at various Biker Bars around Southern Michigan and were the only photos I could find still on the Hard Drive. I think Pat deleted the rest of the photos the girls were so nasty.
Pat never understood that it wasn't the bike event that I hated, it was the things I had to put up with when I went and he was unaware of. I actually like custom cycles and loved the pictures that Pat took of the sleek custom designs and the way they sound while riding down the road.
So that leads me back to the change in our plans for the next week. I spoke with our friend and old boss Chris from Yellowstone and he said he would mail my camera and the rest of our packages to Jana's house and we could just drop him a check to cover the costs which I thought that was great.
So from the kindness of yet another person who is willing to open there doors to complete strangers, Pat and I are going to Sturgis for Bike Week. What a great opportunity to see an event that we would have never went to had it not have been for Jana and her husband Tom, offering us there hospitality.
When we finally left our three day stay at Uneventsville, Pat had decided to take the route planning into his own hands. We were traveling to Fort Laramie, a refurbished 1800's Fort that has recreations of actual life styles from back then.
As we drove I just kept talking about random sights and thoughts, but Pat was clocked out and really didn't say anything except for a simple 'yes' or 'no' tom questions that required an in-depth answer. Finally, after hours of no conversation I said "Ok, I will shut up and leave you alone to be in your own little world, let me know when you check back in." I think I got a "Yep" from that statement also.
I had asked Pat to pull over so I could let the dogs out and asked him where Fort Laramie is anyway. Pat replied with a quick "I don't know, I thought we would just run into it?" Which I found funny since he had looked at the map a half dozen times since we left our condo (Wally World) back in Cheyenne.
I picked up the map and noticed that the 3 dwarves sitting next to me Sleepy, Grumpy and Dopey had completely missed our exit. He was so unaware of the fact the he was the navigator that I just had to laugh. Oh well, we continued on toward Devils Tower, knowing we would for sure stop there before we get to Jana's house.
We ended up stopping in New Castle and actually enjoyed the rest of the drive to get here. Pat had come back to me as my designated driver and he left the 3 dwarves behind.
I am so glad because when I have to focus on not talking, I have to concentrate so darn hard on keeping my mouth shut that it stresses me out. After Pat came out of his coma, we actually stopped at a few abandoned houses on the side of the road and checked out all of the wild flowers and were young loves again!
Off to Devils Tower tomorrow and then on to Jana's and Sturgis! I can't wait to see what this adventure brings.